MSPCA Cape Cod Offers Winter Pet Safety Tips

BARNSTABLE – The cold weather is here to stay and MSPCA Cape Cod is reminding the public to be careful with their pets outside.

“You never know, the weather can change in the drop of the hat,” said Brittany Pickul of MSPCA Cape Cod.  

“You just want to make sure you have a plan.”  

The organization has issued a number of cold weather safety tips to help Cape Cod residents keep their pets warm and away from harm this winter.

  • Keep your pets warm and indoors – Cats should always stay inside as cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods. Always make sure to wake any sleeping animals by tapping on your car hood before starting the engine.
  • Trips outside should remain short during the winter months – While dogs need outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill is a factor.
  • Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year – However in the winter, do not bring them near bodies of water even if they appear frozen.
  • Be cautious when walking shorthaired dogs – Shorthaired dogs, such as Greyhounds, Beagles, Chihuahuas, and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective clothing. Dogs can develop frostbite and hypothermia if exposed to freezing temperatures for too long. While some breeds may have thick fur coats and enjoy being out in the snow, such as artic dog breeds, many others do not have thick fur coats and might need a little help to stay warm. When looking for a jacket, make sure it does not restrict your dog’s movement, and is simple to take on and off.

“We always recommend, if you want a coat, your animal may require a coat,” continued Pickul.

  • Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur with a damp towel after returning from outdoors – It is important to clean between the pads, as salt and snow can end up in this area. Dogs should not be allowed to lick at their paws after they have been walking on surfaces treated with salt, as this could result in significant ingestion of salt, which can be toxic. If your dog will tolerate wearing boots, this is a good option. They will help prevent exposure to salt and other irritating ice melt products, give them added traction on slippery icy surfaces, and helps to prevent them from cutting their paws on sharp ice. If your pet will not wear boots, try using “Musher’s Secret,” a wax formulated to protect paw pads.
  • When purchasing an ice melt product – try to obtain one that is labeled as pet safe.
  • Always check your pet’s outdoor shelter – Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind, and only large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down. The shelter floor should also be elevated from the ground level and have dry bedding. A steady water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on frequently so that it does no freeze.
  • Be wary of antifreeze products – Products that contain ethylene and glycol are highly toxic and can produce life threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. While Massachusetts now requires antifreeze to contain a bitter testing agent, some old antifreeze may still exist and it is still safest to assume an animal could drink it and prevent access. May windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting, drunkenness, and sever central nervous system depression.

For further information and tips regarding pet’s safety during the winter time, visit

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.
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